How do you do it!?!

College Kid

FZJ80, with a wife and three children 9-14. Fitting everything in is a struggle, but we have it down to a science that works for us.

#1, rear bumper carrier can hold 20 gallons of water. I don't have to carry water in the truck.

#2, Yakima skybox. It is a big one and hold all the sleeping pads, sleeping bags, lightweight nylon tarps and pillows.

We couldn't do it easily otherwise without those two things. That means all that is in the rear of the Land Cruiser is the cooler, action packer chuckbox, food, recovery gear/tools, daypacks, table, chairs, tent, awning, clothes bags, etc. After I strap everything down I can still use the rear view mirror without trouble. We can do 5 days unsupported right now. That 5th day better be short though. Water is usually our limiting factor.

It can be done, just start approaching car camping like backpacking and you'll be surprised at what you can do without. We use coleman canisters and not a large LP tank. No lanterns, just headlamps. Two pairs of shoes, hiking boots or flipflob/keens. Be smart about food. We usually prepare and freeze a couple of meals. Reduced the amount of ice needed in the cooler. While I would love a fridge, the volume they carry vs footprint might cause us trouble compared to a good ice chest. Since we have a bit a room to spare, it may be a wash and a moot point. I will say the key for us was getting the water out of the truck and a good storage spot for the light stuff on the roof. Without the Yamima Skybox we could do it, but packed to the roof.

The good news is there are a thousand right answers, you just need to find a way to minimize both the quantity and size of the stuff you bring in way that still works for you. Creative packing works to. It is amazing all the nooks and crannies that will hold a shoe.

Now that the youngest is getting bigger, I want to utilize one of the rear seats so everyone has more room. Sadly, that means a trailer for us. I'm not interested in putting more on the roof. The bonus of a trailer is we can start bringing our mountain bikes and more water. That means more time away from civilization. :jumping:

GeoRoss took the words right out of my mouth. I was an backpacker before my wife and kids came along, and having that experience made all the difference. Check out some of the ultra-light backpacking forums for ideas packing light and small.


Expo this, expo that, exp
We do it, family of 4. Everything fits in the Tacoma bed, roof racks. The more you do it, the better you get.

Doc Foster

As other have already stated, travel as light as you can. There is always a Wal Mart somewhere along the way if you forgot something or absolutely have to have something else.
Every trip we take, on the ride home, my wife and I make a list of all the things we did NOT use or need to take on the next trip. We then tape that list on our cooler or bin of camping stuff we keep in the garage. That way when we start packing for the next trip it gives us a reminder of what to not bring. We have been doing this for years and are getting close to getting it right, but it always varies a bit depending upon the season and our destination. But do consider storage up on the roof, and some sort of rack for your hitch, something like©-Folding-Carrier-Luggage-Receiver/dp/B011VP2DR0/ref=sr_1_5?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1444673536&sr=1-5&refinements=p_n_format_browse-bin:491459011


I'm trying to figure out how to pack light and small now. I've found if I go through each piece one by one and re-evaluate it I can either ditch it or find something that does double duty or is a smaller footprint. Like swapping out a Coleman 2 burner grill a single burner setup like this

Things like this you can stash in small cubbies. I also have a D2 like yours and found that there is quite a bit of space behind some of the plastic panels. Like the space behind the vents in the cargo area behind the tail lights. Heck the single burner stove and a 1lb canister filled to 2lbs will fit there with some room to spare. That leaves you with the whole footprint of the original 2 burner grill as usua le space now. Just small stuff like that.

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Choice of rig, desired route and required amenities are all factors. As mentioned before, a "think light" mindset will do you good! The less it seems like "home" the lighter and smaller you'll be.

For us, we travel in a standard tin-top Vanagon with myself, my wife and our 7yr old daughter. Spares and tools under the rear seat. Fridge or cooler behind the passenger. REI chuckbox behind the driver w/ duffle of assorted stuff strapped on top. Between the front seats we have an old police cube case with much-needed items, food and other fin things. Rear seat is for my daughter. Each person gets one sleeping bag and one personal bag and that does it for up to a week or more unsupported (but rarely do we need that one the east coast). Recently we've started pulling a m416 with a Maggiolina and it provides space for extra stuff and frees the rig up a little.

If we were out west we'd move to a 4d Cruiser or JK and be near to same for storage. We've done smaller (a YJ and LJ Jeep) and, while possible with three/four ppl it's not as fun. YMMV!


I used to just camp with a tent some sleeping bags and a small cooler but I ended up getting a trailer to make camping with kids easier but realistically it's because wife needs to bring damn near everything from the house when we camp. We usually don't go as far off track as I'd like because she gets scared of the long drops off some of the trails. I just got a Coleman Cobalt as well and hope to make it a little more capable and hopefully it will make life easier with the family in tow. My kids are 5 and 7 so we bring drawing stuff, a board game or two and BB guns to shoot paper plates with. During the summer we try to head out at least once a month and I love it because when they are away from the house in the woods it seems like they behave better as well. Our camping family has Mom, Dad, 2 boys, a Great Dane and a Retriever mutt.


Expedition Leader
We have a Lifetime Tent trailer the original sorta a mini Jumping Jack trailer. On short local ish trips we usually take our Subaru and most gear gets stacked on the trailer in bins. 5yr old , 7 yr old and the occasional Doberman .5 kid. We just did a big trip end of June and due to the overnight Hotel stop each way to/from Yellowstone we took the Sequoia so all gear stuffed in the back vs out unsecured on the trailer.

With the kids I found base camping then day trips is the only way it works. Doing multiple camp breakdowns and set ups with kids can result in the wife swearing never to do a camping trip again. So we park it for many days in one spot. And do day trips which case an RTT on the car doesn't work.


Expedition Leader
We rarely just hangout in camp all day. Given the reason we travel to those locations is to explore the area / region. The last two summers we hit two major parks from base camp with two late evening returns to camp. The rest of the time we return for dinner or lunch and do a hike or hit the body of water by camp etc. The Costco Hammaks with a good book and this yrs small corn Hole kit have been our top in camp favorite items. The large wheeled folding adult Razor scooters have been a great alternative to Schleping bikes to areas not ideal for a real family bike ride. Vs say our Yosemite trips we'll spend every day all day cruising the park by bike trail etc.

Kyle Kelso

Bigger rig...
If your dog rides in a crate like ours does that takes up a lot more room.

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We have 4 of us, no dog. And a Land Rover LR4. Its still tight.

I've been down sizing things, chairs where downsized this year which helped. Our tent is a 10x10 kodiak canvas, its a bit large, also all our sleeping gear. I downsized to camping pillows, but the family still carry full sized, we also have self inflating air pads that are quite large. I use 1730 Pelican cases on the roof rack for most of the sleep gear and then some other cases in the cargo area. We keep our 50qt ARB Fridge in the 2nd row middle also, its a perfect place for a fridge.


New member
With the kids I found base camping then day trips is the only way it works. And do day trips which case an RTT on the car doesn't work.

This! As a family we camp 30-40 nights a year and this is mostly possible due to base camping with day trips.


New member
Sorry to say it but this reply will not help you lol. I'm only camping with 3, wife, infant son, and myself. I have a Ram 2500 crew cab long bed. And I'm adding stuff... I prefer a ground tent. I use a 4 man Alaskan Guide by Cabelas. (It could probably sleep 6 tightly) an 8ft bed allows me to pack in everything I need without even messing with the cab. I even pack in firewood at no cut camps. I'm considering building an off-road teardrop none the less, More for luxury than necessity.


New member
Man I hear ya. Lifetime backpacker and I STILL struggled to fit gear for 4 into a 4runner with a Yakima Spacecase up top and a Cargo Rack the holds 4 bikes on the back. Even paring down to minimal stuff, we had challenges with carrying water and firewood (desert camping/Baja and all). Going on trips that involved surfboards, SUPs, kayaks or inflatable boats was a nightmare. No way the planned dog was going to fit.

I ended up getting a Sequoia....